Bausch & Lomb and the University of Rochester Establish Alliance for Vision Excellence

May 02, 2000

  • Strategic partnership will advance clinical and academic research in ophthalmic refractive correction and create innovative new products
  • Alliance will focus on enhancing personalized vision correction with adaptive optics-everything from laser surgery to customized contact lenses
  • Bausch & Lomb to provide an approximately $3 million cash and in-kind grant to launch the Alliance

Bausch & Lomb (NYSE: BOL) today unveiled a strategic partnership with the University of Rochester that creates the Alliance for Vision Excellence - a clinical and academic research collaboration dedicated to improving the technology, techniques and products used to correct vision-impairing anomalies of the eye, enabling millions of people to see better than ever before. The Alliance teams Bausch & Lomb with the University's Center for Visual Science and its Department of Ophthalmology. Together they are setting out to take the enhancement of people's vision to a new level of precision and customized eye care.

A grant of approximately $3 million from Bausch & Lomb provides the initial funding for the first five years of Alliance operations. In addition to research, the Alliance will establish a clinical practice in refractive surgery, fully equipped with the latest technologically advanced instruments, devices and diagnostic tools made by Bausch & Lomb. The state-of-the-art equipment will include Bausch & Lomb's recently FDA-approved Technolas™ 217 excimer laser, which will be available for use by ophthalmologists in the Rochester community.

"Our goal is to help consumers see, look and feel better - in effect, to help people see the wonders of the world," said Carl E. Sassano, president and chief operating officer of Bausch & Lomb. "For Bausch & Lomb to accomplish this goal, we recognize that new products are our life and that we must continually invest in research and development to assure that our technology is the latest and the best. The Alliance for Vision Excellence is translating our drive to always be the preeminent global technology-based healthcare company for the eye into action." "The Alliance for Vision Excellence builds on a long-standing collegiality that has existed between the University - particularly David Williams and his research team at the Center for Visual Science - and Bausch & Lomb," says Jay H. Stein, M.D., University of Rochester Medical Center chief executive officer. "Together, through this alliance, we can make new discoveries and then bring them to the patient. Corporate partnerships such as this are an essential step in the process that turns scientific knowledge into medicines and devices that heal."

Scott MacRae, M.D., an international authority on refractive surgery and customized ablation who was recruited from the prestigious Casey Eye Institute of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, will serve as medical director of the Alliance. He will conduct clinical research under a program related to the clinical use of devices and equipment designed, manufactured and supplied by Bausch & Lomb. Williams, Ph.D., head of the Center for Visual Science and a professor of brain and cognitive science, optics and ophthalmology, will oversee basic science research in the area of ophthalmic and adaptive optics.

The University of Rochester Medical Center will conduct a range of clinical trials that will give patients early access to Bausch & Lomb's most advanced products. This arrangement will dramatically broaden the base of patients available to Bausch & Lomb for new product studies. The work of the Alliance will advance the research and development for all parts of the Bausch & Lomb business - contact lenses, ophthalmic pharmaceuticals and surgical products. Bausch & Lomb will also have a royalty-bearing license to any new technology developed by scientists associated with the Alliance.

While this is the most extensive collaboration between Bausch & Lomb and the University of Rochester, it is not the first. Scientists at Bausch & Lomb and the Center for Visual Science worked together to create a pioneering diagnostic device originally called an aberrometer. The device, now trademarked by Bausch & Lomb with the name Zywave™, is a key part of the new refractive technology. The Zywave can detect minute defects even in the eyes of people with 20/20 vision. The device is grounded in a technology known as adaptive optics, which astronomers use to sharpen images from telescopes. Williams has led a decade-long effort to apply the technology to improve ordinary human vision.

The Zywave marks a milestone in vision care, detecting visual distortions so subtle that physicians didn't even know they existed until Williams' laboratory developed the device, which has its roots in the 'wavefront sensor' invented by Junzhong Liang at the University of Heidelberg in 1989. Today a visit to the eye doctor focuses mainly on two types of aberration - astigmatism and improper focusing of the eye - and most prescriptions are intended to correct for these two defects. The Zywave can measure up to 65 different aberrations. This type of precise diagnostic data allows eye-care practitioners to provide individuals with truly personalized vision solutions - from customized contact lenses to customized laser surgery.

The Alliance for Vision Excellence is scheduled to be fully operational in June of this year.

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Karin Christensen
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